Updated: Mar 26
Ask these seven questions to help find a graphic designer that is right for you.
In a world where everything is DIY and everyone has access to “design” software, it’s tempting to just create that flyer yourself. You might be able to limp along with free online software for a while, but it’s limiting. And as your business grows, you’ll need someone with more expertise to take your marketing pieces to the next level. But, how do you choose a graphic designer?
You might be asking yourself, “How do I find a graphic designer that’s right for my business?” And the answer would be this: make sure you research and ask the right questions.
After doing some online searches, such as “graphic designers near me” or “best graphic designers in Nebraska” you will likely have hundreds of names pop up. Pairing down that list to people with whom you’d want to work is going take a few phone calls and/or meetings. But be sure to ask these seven questions to find the right graphic designer for your project.
1. What is your budget?
It is important to have a general budget established before you say yes to any designer. I like to wait until after a consultation with my clients to give them an estimate. I’ll take your ideas and needs into account and put together an appropriate bid for the project.
It’s also important to know what you’re willing to spend. It will make a difference in the estimate that your designer gives you. If you only have $200 to spend, you will get a much different logo than if you have $2000 to invest. And that’s exactly how you should think of your logo, as an investment!
Also, try not to have sticker shock. You are hiring this person to do a job that you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) do yourself. You are hiring them for their skills, talent, and the years of experience that they can bring to the table. It’s important not to undervalue that.
2. How does the designer’s portfolio look?
As you’re searching for designers, you will likely come across their online portfolio or website. Take this opportunity to glance through their work. This cursory research can give you an idea of whether the designer is a good fit. Here are some things to keep an eye out for while reviewing a designers portfolio:
Do you like their style?
Are the designs in their portfolio appealing to you?
Do they display technical skill?
Do they seem original or have you seen a million other designs that look identical?
3. Does the designer understand your wants and needs?
Once you’ve had a conversation with your designer, you should come away feeling like you each have a good understanding of the project. If there are any concerns that you might not be on the same page, then you should address them.
Make sure you’ve talked about each item within your project. Maybe the designer has some ideas that could push your strategy to the next level. Maybe the designer has bigger ideas than you are ready to undertake. Either way, it’s good to hash this out and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
4. Have project expectations been established?
This question goes hand-in-hand with that of budgeting and understanding one another. You should make sure that your expectations for your project match those of the designer and what they can accommodate for your budget.
For example, you have $400 to spend on a logo. You might expect to have a fully customized logo with a specialty font and illustrated mascot. But, in reality, the designer might only be able to give you a customized piece of stock art. Each designer's fees will vary based on their level of technical skill and experience.
Be sure that all parties involved in the design project have a clear understanding of what the expectations are. This way you can move forward without surprises or let-downs and if you need to cut ties, better to do it sooner rather than later.
5. Does the designer come recommended or can you ask for references?
Next to your own research, having the recommendation of a friend, colleague or coworker can help you in your search for a designer. Ask people you know if they have had a good experience with their designer. This could help point you in the right direction for picking the best graphic designer possible.
On the flip side, if your perspective designer is an unknown entity, ask them for business references of clients they’ve worked with. If they are any type of professional, they shouldn’t hesitate to let you know who of their clients you can speak to to assuage your fears.
However, if they can’t give you references or try and skirt around the question, run fast! Unless their excuse is lack of experience due to being fresh out of college, they probably don’t have a good work history with previous clients.
Another thing to consider are Google reviews and Facebook recommendations. Larger design agencies might have dozens of reviews. Don’t be put off if the designer you’re looking at has no reviews or ratings listed. If they are a small shop or a freelancer, they likely don’t have the volume of clientele to build a page full of testimonials. The silver lining here is that they likely have much more time to spend on your project, which will probably work out in your favor.
6. Is the designer available to complete the project within your timeframe?
Having an established time frame is important. If you are in a hurry for your project to be completed your designer might already have other clients on their schedule that come before you.
It’s best to make sure that you have a good idea of when you need your project completed at the start of your search for a designer. This way you can make sure that your designer isn’t rushed for time. The creative process takes time and several rounds of proofing - make sure you get the best bang for your buck by not rushing your designer. Do you want it done fast, do you want it done right, or do you want it done within budget? Pick two, because that's all you'll get!
7. Is there a contract?
I never start a project with a new client without having a contract signed by both parties. There are too many things that can go wrong and too many variables that can turn against either myself or the client in the event that our working relationship goes south.
A standard contract will layout expectations, payment terms, cancellation terms, and may include a list of deliverables. Without this contract, a client could skip out on payment or steal the artwork I’ve created for them - even if they hadn’t paid yet. Or, on the flip side, a designer could stop contacting you halfway through a project even though you paid everything up front.
I believe it is in both parties best interest to have a contract in place to keep the peace and make sure both sides are accountable. It’s just good business.
Now that you’ve read through the seven questions you should ask before hiring a designer, hopefully you’ll be better prepared to start your search. I suggest you meet with at least a couple different designers to establish a great working relationship. This will make sure that your dollars are being spent the way you want them and you’ll be set up for success with some great pieces that will promote your company.
Want a consultation to discuss your design project? Fill out my contact form and we’ll set up a time to talk about what you need to take your business to the next level. I look forward to hearing from you!